In aftermath of Aurora mass shootings, secrecy reigns…

AURORA, CO - JULY 20:  Investigators are on th...

AURORA, CO – JULY 20: Investigators are on the scene at the Century 16 movie theatre where a gunmen attacked movie goers during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. According to reports, over 10 people have been killed and over 30 injured. Police have the suspect, twenty-four year old James Holmes of North Aurora, in custody. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Tightening the secrecy over the year Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes spent studying neuroscience, a judge has barred the University of Colorado Denver from releasing any records about the former graduate student’s time there.

What happened to the 24-year-old during his time in the program at the school’s Anschutz Medical Campus is one of the many mysteries stemming from last Friday’s mass shooting at a theater in which he’s accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 others at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”…

Numerous media organizations, including The Associated Press, filed open records requests for school records about Holmes after he was named as the suspect in the shooting that happened just after midnight July 20.

But in an order signed Monday and released by the school Thursday in response to an open records request by the AP, District Court Judge William Blair Sylvester said releasing information in response to requests filed under the Colorado Open Records Act would “impede an ongoing investigation.” Sylvester is overseeing the criminal case against Holmes, who is expected to appear in court Monday and be formally charged.

Mark Caramanica, freedom of information director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Va., called the order “highly unorthodox.” He said it was unusual that a public institution would consult with an outside entity instead of just following the law and answering the request.

“It seems very premature for a court to get involved and make such a sweeping order,” Caramanica said. “It seems like a very broad and overly aggressive approach.”

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Judicial Watch sues Navy over bin Laden burial records

Osama bin Laden is swimming with the fishes, and Judicial Watch wants to know precisely what happened before he was dumped in the ocean…

English: Osama bin Laden interviewed for Daily...

English: Osama bin Laden interviewed for Daily Pakistan in 1997; behind him on the wall is an AK-47 carbine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Enhanced by Zemanta

The academic FOI request blowback makes its way to the UK…

File this one under “it was bound to happen…”

A cross-party group of MPs has recommended a change in the law to prevent unpublished research data being released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The exemption should be introduced to “protect ongoing research”, the Justice Committee said in a report, Post-Legislative Scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, that was released yesterday.

Universities UK has been campaigning for such a change to the act on a number of grounds.

It has argued that researchers could use information gained from an FoI request to “scoop” data from rivals and beat them to publication, undermining the incentive for research.

It has also warned that businesses could use the act to access valuable research being conducted by commercial competitors and universities before patents can be taken out.

UUK has also raised the prospect that data could be released and then misinterpreted and misused by the public before it has been subjected to scholarly analysis and peer review.

Scotland has a specific exemption for pre-publication research.

Paul Gibbons, a Freedom of Information campaigner and author of the FOI Man blog, said that he thought there was “no real need” for a new exemption because “existing exemptions could be utilised” to protect research. Nevertheless, he added: “I can’t see it doing much harm.”

FOI At Work: NY Officials Shared Draft Fracking Regs With Industry

Documents obtained by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show that bureaucrats within the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) granted the oil and gas industry premature access to highly controversial draft regulations for shale gas fracking in the state. New York placed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for gas in order to evaluate the science on the risks posed to drinking water, air quality and the health of New York’s citizens and the environment.

The documents, obtained by EWG through New York’s Freedom of Information Law, show that the fracking industry received an unfair advantage thanks to DEC officials who provided detailed summaries of their proposed rules exclusively to oil and gas industry representatives. This allowed industry a six-week head start to lobby state officials to weaken the proposed standards before the public was granted access to the plan.

Wisconsin High Court: No, Agencies Can Not Charge for Redaction….

The Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously ruled Wednesday against the City of Milwaukee and for the Journal Sentinel in a dispute over whether a government body can charge for its employees to delete information deemed confidential from public records. Reversing a Milwaukee County judge’s ruling, the high court said Wisconsin’s 30-year-old public records law has never allowed public agencies to charge requesters for redacting information from records. The city argued it could charge for redacting under provisions of the law that allow fees to be charged for locating and copying records. The Supreme Court rejected that argument and said such fees could be used by governmental bodies to effectively deny release of records. “This case is not about a direct denial of public access to records, but the issue in the present case directly implicates the accessibility of government records,” Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote in the decision. “The greater the fee imposed on a requester of a public record, the less likely the requester will be willing and able to successfully make a record request.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 436 other followers